USTA Follows in Footsteps of US Gymnastics by Covering Up for a Serial Sexual Abuser

As if we needed more examples that institutions cannot police themselves, the United States Tennis Association has provided the latest reason why all allegations of sexual abuse must be reported to and investigated by independent law enforcement officials.

While sports organizations nationwide were grappling with how to handle cases of sexual abuse in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, the USTA decided it was capable of doing what U.S/ Gymnastics could not: police itself. Yet as the case of Normandie Burgos shows, in the end USTA’s arrogance only put more children at risk.

USTA allowed Burgos to coach for three more years after he was arrested for sexual abuse, for the second time, in 2014. Rather than learn lessons from the Nassar scandal or the scandals within the Catholic Church, USTA instead decided to follow those institutions’ playbook. This scandal is an embarrassment for the USTA and yet another example of why institutions cannot be believed when they promise to police themselves.

We call for government intervention into those institutions that have consistently put their reputations ahead of the protection of children. If steroids in baseball was a big enough issue for governmental oversight, we believe our elected officials in Congress should also investigate cases of serial sexual abuse being committed against children and covered up by institutions that are supposed to protect them, not harm them. The time for government inaction is over.

We applaud the victims of Burgos who were able to come forward at an early age. The average age of an abuse survivor coming forward in the US is 52, so without action by these brave survivors, it is likely that Burgos could have kept abusing children for decades. It is clear USTA was unwilling to stop him. It is sad that this burden fell to his victims, but we applaud their courage in coming forward.

We hope that this story will be read widely, discussed by parents, coaches, and teachers, and that these discussions will lead to greater understanding how common sexual violence is, who it is most commonly perpetrated by, and what steps individual communities can take to combat this serious issue. We believe that the more often that the public is made aware of these failures and crimes, the more that the public outrage will lead to prevention. As is becoming clearer and clearer by the day, we cannot count on our educational, athletic, and religious institutions to protect our children, so it is incumbent on us to do it for them.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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